As marketing grows ever more tech-oriented, here’s how to adopt the right solutions for your business.

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You may not want to hear this, but marketing today is verging on science. It’s undebatable that technology is in the driver’s seat. The world of the consumer becomes more digital every day, meaning brands must use marketing technology to help enhance engagement.

The developments that have led to martech’s emergence as a business requirement are here to stay. Cloud-computing infrastructure is only becoming more capability-packed, and Amazon AWS and other providers are making the cloud more accessible to companies looking to scale quickly. Furthermore, open-source code gives developers the canvas they need to build on top of existing martech tools and platforms, helping ecosystems grow. Plus., developers have used various tech stacks to their advantage, boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing strategies.

If you follow the money, you’ll see that spending on digital advertising has been increasing year over year. In the U.S., it’s expected to have outstripped traditional advertising in 2019, with forecasted growth of 19 percent. To further fuel your martech capabilities, take these three steps.

Related: Selling Marketing Software to Marketers: It’s More of a Science Than an Art

1. Use technology to deepen human ties.

Consumer behavior is inextricably linked to emotions, as Forrester research underscores. Loyalty is the result of strong emotional connections, meaning that rewards programs and repeat customer discounts are no longer enough. If your brand can connect with individual consumer emotions, you’re far more likely to succeed. In fact, nearly 80 percent of customers exclusively shop with brands that understand them, according to a Wunderman study. Customers expect to save money, sure, but they have a strong desire to feel important in the eyes of the brand.

This is no secret to the savviest marketing executives. Meredith Jurek, CMO of Anytime Fitness, explains in a CMS Wire interview that, thanks to data, personalized customer interactions are more attainable at scale. Other brands have also figured this out. Kiehl’s started tracking customer behavior using technology, which has enabled the brand to enhance its customized customer interactions. And MudLOVE rewards customers who engage with the nonprofit Water for Good on social media. This tactic of getting customers involved with an organization MudLOVE supports strengthens the connection its customers feel to the company’s values.

2. Ready yourself for regulations. 

Data privacy and cybersecurity have broken into the public consciousness amidst a plethora of high-profile security breaches, prompting lawmakers to take action in the U.S. and elsewhere. Already, we’ve seen new legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. In the U.S., it’s very possible we’ll soon see federal legislation focused on governing how consumer data is used.

But marketers shouldn’t sit idly by, waiting for that to happen. They should be proactively addressing privacy concerns around data-driven approaches. “First, marketing companies need to ensure that subscribers opt in to receiving promotional or marketing messages in an unambiguous way. They also need to explicitly state what information they’re collecting and the intended use for this information,” advises Harold Giménez, VP of technology at Iterable, in an interview with ClickZ.

Companies then need to follow that up with systems that enable data portability and the permanent deletion of personal data — the so-called “right to be forgotten.” Already collecting and using consumer data? Understand that you’ll be held accountable for how it’s used.

Related: Personalization and Privacy in a GDPR World

3. Invest in tools that add real value.

Avoid investing in technology just to follow the herd. Instead, focus your martech investment strategy on tools that clearly advance your company’s goals. After all, today’s hot new toy could be rendered useless by tomorrow. There are certain factors you’ll want to consider as you determine what martech, adtech or productivity tools are worth your resources. High among them is the financial stability of the vendor supplying the tools.

“Startups come and go, so if you find yourself needing to heavily invest in software, make sure the parent company is established and/or well-funded,” says Sarah Fruy, director of brand and digital experience at Pantheon, in a company blog post. “The last thing you want is to install new technology, import your data and train your employees, only to see the company go out of business, forcing you to repeat the process.”

In addition, think through how easy or difficult it will be to integrate a certain tool or tech solution into your current martech stack. It may be better to invest in a software package that consolidates business requirements rather than stack new solutions atop older programs.

Related: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Startups Succeed

As your business grows, so will your marketing needs. Be deliberate as you explore the martech landscape, which is evolving fast. There are tools out there that can help you push your business forward, but you have to take the time to find the solution that fits.

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